Jan 17, 2005 9:46pm
Re: the Literary history of Beat Gen lectures
Thanks for that! I remember AG does mention the different Burroughs personalities in a lecture (I think it is part 1 but the archive is grumpy this morning). I didn't know the other details though. I also recall Allen and/or Jack undergoing some sort of therapy with Burroughs as the analyst. I also remembered Allen mentions Williams James' Variety of Religious Experience in one lecture as an important influence in determing the modern project of understanding your own mind.
Considering the anti-gay and generally oppressive nature of psychoanalysis in the 40s and 50s, I guess it is not surprising that the trio looked elsewhere. But I think in terms of discussing his poetic method, psychology and psychoanalysis' specific language and ideas might have helped Allen articulate particulars of method more clearly. In the long run I suspect it doesn't matter- Allen certainly wasn't at a loss of words to explain his method. But in trying to use and teach some of these methods in my own life, I find that some of the ideas of psychoanalysis help to overcome the thousand of micro-obstacles that arise in trying to put these into practice.
For instance, recently I was amazed to read in James Hillman's Soul of the World the following paragraph:
when I am asked "how was the bus ride?" I respond "miserable, terrible, desperate" But these words describe me, my feelings, my experience, not the bus ride which was bumpy, crowded, steamy, cramped, noxious with long waits. Even if I noticed the bus and the trip, my language transferred this attention to notions about myself. The 'I' has swallowed the bus, and my knowledge of the external world has become a subjective report of my feelings.
An aesthetic response does require these feelings but it cannot remain in them; it needs to move back to the image. And the way back to the bus ride necessitates words which notice its qualities.
Since the enlightenment our adjectives have moved from qualifying the world to describing the self...
I then thought of how the Bus Ride Ballad to Suva perfectly
avoids Hillman's subjective point of view. Being from a psychoanalytic frame of reference, he uses an entirely different set of ideas to make sense of this idea (he generally suspects Buddhism of trying to silence too much whereas his goal is to get people to speak). It's as if they got to the same odd place in the woods with two completely different maps. Their subtle disagreement would have been a great chance to further refine their ideas.
If nothing else, Hillman's essay helped the Bus Ride Ballad splash a little louder and leave larger ripples and vice versa.
This post was modified by Blank on 2005-01-18 05:46:59